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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
India makes climate change move
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

Ganges in Varanasi
Experts have warned that climate change will affect Indian river levels
India has taken the first steps towards developing a national plan on tackling the effects of climate change.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a meeting of top government officials and environmental experts which agreed to draft a national policy by October.

But the body has not set any targets to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

India and China are among the world's largest polluters and are coming under international pressure to agree to mandatory emission cuts.

Other countries want them to make the cuts ahead of a key meeting in December.

Melting glaciers

A recent report by environmental experts said India would be among the countries worst affected by climate change.

In his opening remarks at the meeting of India's National Council for Climate Change, Mr Singh acknowledged the scale of the problem.

The growing needs of the Indian economy put pressure on national resources, he said.

The council will work on a strategy to offset the impact of melting Himalayan glaciers which feed many of the country's rivers and are a major source of water and power.

A tree planting programme will also be launched to replenish 15m acres of degraded forests.

And the council will come up with a road map for energy-efficient approaches to economic development.

But no mention was made of cutting carbon emissions.

India has long resisted signing up to any mandatory cuts, saying the impact on its growing economy will be too severe.

Under the existing Kyoto agreement, India is exempted from emission cuts.

But it is under pressure to do so ahead of a UN meeting in December aimed at replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which lapses in 2012.

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